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Newbies' Guide to Coffee & Espresso Equipment
Home >> Other >> Newbie Guide
Newbie's Guide to Coffee and Espresso

So, you're a newbie to the whole quality coffee and espresso world, are you? Nothing wrong with that. I'm a newbie in training in a lot of things - like programming, flying stunt kites, operating high-skill radio control cars, building stuff with power tools, etc etc. Heck, I'm still a newbie at this whole "life" business. Bottom line is, there's nothing wrong with being a newbie at anything. But if you want to get some seasoning under that belt of yours, you've come to the right place.

Maybe you're someone who grew up thinking Folgers Crystals were the epitome of good coffee in the home, or maybe you have been going along with the premise that Starbucks coffee is the peak of espresso perfection. Then you started reading the newsgroup alt.coffee. Or you started visiting this website or the CoffeeGeek site. Or a myriad of other online resources that slowly but surely convinced you that there was something better out there, something better than Folgers, something better than Starbucks.

Even more impressive is that whole "better" thing can happen in your own home. If you're in these groups or similar ones, consider this your starter's guide to never going back to Folgers. But be warned. Quality coffee and espresso is a serious, and I mean seriously serious sinkhole of funds, at least for start up costs. Down the road, you can save money (and boost your coffee quality) by home roasting, but that's for another section.

Consider my warning on prices to be your caveat. If you wanna know more, read on. If you've read other parts of this site, you should have some foundation on what to do once you have the tools. This segment of the CoffeeKid website is mainly going to be a list of machines and equipment that you might consider purchasing. I've listed budget, midrange, and upper end machines. Ready? Let's go...

Parts in this Section
Press Pots and Drip Brewers Guide to Espresso Machines
Beyond espresso, there's coffee brewing via press pots or auto and manual drip brewers. This guide shows you what's out there. [ more ] After you've gotten a good grinder, a quality espresso machine is probably next on your list. Take a look at ultra budget to ultra expensive. [ more ]
Guide to Grinders Vacuum Brewer Guide
A grinder is a must. In this part of the newbies' guide, find out what grinding options are available for different price ranges. [ more ] Vacuum brewing is my favourite way to make any non-espresso coffee drink. They can be challenging, but newbies rejoice - they are fun too! [ more ]

All prices listed in this guide are in approximate US dollars, and are accurate at the time of the last revision (March 15, 2002). Many thanks to Ken Wilson, Jack Denver, and other alt.coffee participants for their help in making this newbie guide complete.


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Before you sink yourself into all the pages within this guide, please, please follow this most important advice I'm about to give you, and follow it first, before you buy anything else:

Get a Good Grinder.

This isn't an option. It is a prerequisite, much like how you need to take Math 10 before taking Algebra 11. I'm not kidding. You can make a shot of espresso with a good quality grinder and a budget espresso machine that is much better than a shot made with a $1000 espresso machine and beans ground in a cheap grinder, or worse, store-ground beans. The espresso machine is sexy.... and the grinder is like, an afterthought, I know - but don't fall into that trap.

I'm really serious about this. If I get emails from people attempting to troubleshoot their poor espresso, and I find out they don't have a grinder or have a cheap whirly blade grinder or an equally cheap Salton-type grinder, I'm not going to even respond to the emails. You read the advice here - follow it.

A blade grinder is possible for non espresso drinks but cannot provide the consistency or cut necessary for other than an occasional lucky espresso shot. Consider a blade grinder a last resort for non-espresso, and don't consider it at all if a top grade cup of coffee or espresso shot is what you are seeking.